A Scientific Analysis of My Twitter PLN

A recent mashable.com blog post shared a study performed by Pear Analytics that recently studied the contents of public tweets across the twitterscape at various times of the day over a two week period. Their goal was to determine what the overall trend of tweeting was. Tweets were categorized into six categories: news, spam, self-promotion, pointless babble, conversation, and pass-along value.

As mashable.com reports: “Their findings aren’t all that favorable to those of us with lofty views of Twitter, because as it turns out, 40.55% of tweets are pointless babble.” The type of information that can fall under “going out for a jog” or a quotation from a particularly catchy Miley Cyrus song.

This immediately got me thinking about my own twitter feed. Twitter teachers like to promote themselves as tweeters above the fray… using Twitter for its collaborative merits. As I remember hearing from a Twitter teacher when I first started using it last February, “Twitter teachers should aim for a Twitter usage around the 90/10 range. 90% education relevant, 10% personal relevance.” The 10% to promote personal connections between fellow tweeters beyond the teacher professional development realm.

So like any good scientist I got down to the data and began collecting. I reviewed the past 100 tweets I had received and broke them down into the same categories as Pear Analytics. My data broke down as follows: 45% pass along, 17% conversation, 17% news, 15% babble, 10% self-promotion, 0% spam.

I was overall pleased with this finding, reassuring in my mind that Twitter was in fact being used as a tool to disseminate resources and ideas through the education community. To be fair the data is narrowly scoped in nature, taking just about 3 hours of tweets on a Saturday morning into account (no telling how the particular day might influence this data.) Examining these 100 tweets I made some poignant side notes:

1) Web20Classroom offers far and away the most frequent pass along tweets and typically tend to be the most relevant to my own teaching. He is an absolute must follow for those looking to start or develop a PLN.

2) Tweeters who were babblers tended to also be conversationalists. It would therefore be remiss of me to simply unfollow these tweeters who would be most likely to add to my own conversations.

3) News tends to come in spurts from corporate/organization backed websites.

4) Eventhough I follow a few hundred fellow twitter educators, the majority of the tweets come from 10-20 high profile tweeters and the remainder from those jumping on and off twitter at their convenience like myself.

5) Actual Twitter users like myself have no tolerance for SPAM, and those who do SPAM quickly become blocked or unfollowed until their account is restored.

For those educators not yet on Twitter, I encourage you to consider my own data and join the functional Twitter teacher community. To those already here… take a few minutes to critically look at whats flowing through your twitter feed and please share with me your own observations regarding your Twitter PLN. Keep those tweets relevant and continue sharing!

About MrMusselman

@BurlMAschools Science Specialist and @CambridgeCollg Science Methods instructor. @NSTA Professional Development facilitator and author of "Think Like a Scientist: Investigating Weather and Climate" NSTA Kids ebook.
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